The first dinosaur feather ever found is still contradictory

Famous fossil feathers.

Famous fossil feathers.
Image: Museum for Naturekunde

Fossil feathers found in Germany 159 years ago have returned to the paleontological spotlight, with new research revealing that feathers came like birds. ArcheologyToo much for the ambiguity of dissenting scientists.

When out of context, loneliness Feather remains Presents severe headaches for paleontologists. Such is the case with people 150 million years old In 1861 feathers were found in a German limestone slab. Although there was no reference to a frame, scientists could not say from which part of the body the fossil – the first dinosaur feather ever found – came from.

With the discovery of Archeology A few years after the fossil record, scientists naturally linked the two together. As modern scientists have discovered, this connection was not at all outrageous Other reasons To attach an iconic bird-like dinosaur with separate feathers. Dating back to Jurassic, Archeology It represents a very important species, as it highlights an important evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds.

Artistic impressions of arteoptrex skeletons, including falling primary invisible feathers.

An artistic impression Archeology Skeleton including a falling primary invisible feather.
Image: Ryan Carney

Last year, a Research The paper, co-authored by paleontologist Michael Pitman of the University of Hong Kong, casts some serious shadow on this assumption, concluding that the distinct feathers belong to some “unidentified dinosaurs with feathers.”And certainly not Archeology.

Not so fast, announce an international team of scientists led by the University of South Florida. His new paper, published today in Scientific Reports, argues that The feathers are in fact Archeology, As previously assumed. The new study was prompted by claims made in the Pitman Paper And by others Recently Papers Written on the subject, as Ryan Carney, the first author of the new paper and a USF biologist, explained in an email.

Carney wrote, “We wanted to set a (fossil) record to formally address errors and errors. “Also, I was in the big discussion of high school, So I enjoy this kind of thing. “

Carney and his colleagues analyzed nine different aspects of fossil feathers, with particular attention to the long quill. The details It was then compared with similar anatomical features found in modern birds. The team also studied skeletal remains Archeology, 13 of which are known to exist. The researchers “examined every feather in each Archeology Every barb of fossilized, unified feathers and every relevant piece of literature on feathers from the 1800s to the present day, ”Carney said.

A central component of the new paper is the anatomical feature known as the primary obscure. In birds, the primary cover is a short group of tucked feathers near the top edge of the wing, overlaying the longer primary feathers used for flight and gliding. The remains of separate feathers appear to be the primary secretOne that is similar In Size and shape People seen on the top surface of Archeology Wing, According to research. aO Added evidence, The team notes That fossil feathers were found near a similar spot in Germany of which four have been recovered Archeology Skeleton.

Based on the available evidence, “The most empirical and transparent conclusion is that this feather represents the primary invisibility from the ancient wing. Archeology,The authors wrote in their study.

In terms of other interesting findings, the researchers The feathers are believed to have come from the animal’s left wing, and preserved melanomas – analysis of micro-scale pigment structures –Indicates that the whole feather was matte black, which Contradictory Claim previous research Archeology The feathers were slightly patterned.

1862 picture of fossil feathers.  Showing the assumed quill.

1862 picture of fossil feathers. Showing the assumed quill.
Image: TG Kaye et al., 2019

It is important to note that Carney’s team did not actually analyze the fossils Manual, but high-resolution digital scan of drawings made from fossils. German paleontologist Hermann von Meyer made life-size markings of fossils in 1862 using a drawing mirror. Through digital scans, the authors wrote, “more accurate and precise criteria” have been allowed.

In contrast, Pitman’s team, which included Thomas Kane of the Arizona Foundation for Scientific Advancement, used a technique called L.aser-sScheduled fLuressons (LSF) To create a chemical “halo” of feathers, allow the team to see features on the fossil that would otherwise be invisible. A comparative analysis of all known feather-saving Archeology Samples were also made. Scientists have previously identified feathers as one Archeology Preliminary disclosure, but Pitman and his team of colleagues felt that their data had been leaked as a possibility.

Feathers as seen with laser-stimulated fluorescence.

Feathers as seen with laser-stimulated fluorescence.
Image: TG Kaye et al., 2019

When asked to comment on the new paper, Pitman said his team “never considered using the drawing, as the LSF image and the fossil show us the primary data,” adding that the inconsistency of the resulting data found in the two papers was “two.” Data sources come from different uses. “For example, Pittman drew attention to a perfectly focused line on a drawing of 1866, which does not appear to be centered on the LSF image. It doesn’t seem like much, but even a small feature can affect how other parts of the feather are interpreted, He said. Pitman believes that “science would have been better served” if Carney and his colleagues had “used some available data and created error bars” to account for the potential state of certain features.

Carney, on the other hand, feels the debate has finally been resolved.

He said, ‘Given the solitary nature of the feathers, we can never get 100% certainty,’ but, “the mountain of evidence speaks for itself.” Besides, there are no known feathered dinosaurs that have reached the advanced stage of flight feathers at that time and place that represents this distinct feather.

Reasonable enough, but not without Pitman’s concern and warrant warrant. T.He source These feathers are clearly still controversial, So hopefully will do research in the future To reconcile this discussion in one way or another.

It seems unnecessary to devote so much time and energy to a single feather, But as Carnegie said, no one is known except the feathered dinosaur Archeology Can currently account for this residue. And if Pitman is true – that he belongs to an unknown species – it means that there are still some important fossils waiting to be discovered.